Inquiry must do better for victims & community

The scope of the Inquiry into the Christchurch terrorist attack must be broadened meet victims needs and to address the root causes of the attack.

At present, there is no proposal on the table for legal representation of victims at this Inquiry. There is also no proposal to have victims funded to attend hearings of this inquiry. We need to put victims at the centre of this inquiry and make sure that all of them can participate in whatever way they want.

We are also concerned that the scope of the inquiry is insufficiently broad to address the deep seated institutional racism within government. It is not simply that the intelligence services and police were looking at the wrong people. Of course they were. Nor is it that they didn’t know about the rise of violent white supremacists because these agencies were told about them repeatedly. Rather, it is that these agencies are founded upon colonial violence, and the entire basis of their work in protecting ‘national security’ is a racist idea.

Moreover, there is scant work by government on making Pākehā New Zealanders less racist and more culturally tolerant. There is a persistent idea that ethnic and religious minorities and newcomers have to ‘integrate’ into New Zealand society. Yet those killed by the terrorist attack in Christchurch could not have been more integrated: they were our doctors, engineers, teachers, nurses, shopkeepers, business owners, athletes and students. Rather it is that Pākehā are not obligated to know anything at all about the New Zealand Bill of Rights or about New Zealand history. We are also not required to understand anything at all about the experiences of people here who are not white. The racist utterings of Hamilton City Councillor James Casson is a prime example that this lack of empathy and understanding by some sectors of Pākehā society is endorsed and encouraged by members of the political establishment.

The inquiry should be an opportunity to explore why and how the state has failed to address Pākehā racism and intolerance. It is also the opportunity for the state to map out the extent of white supremacist radicalisation in New Zealand

At the very least the inquiry must:
1. Facilitate the attendance of any victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack at the inquiry who want to be there
2. Provide for legal representation of the victims and wider Muslim community at the inquiry
3. Examine the extent of Islamophobia within the state sector including legislative instruments and government policies
4. Map the nature and extent of white supremacist radicalisation in New Zealand
5. Recommend opportunities for building social cohesion by addressing Pākehā racism, lack of knowledge of the NZ Bill of Rights and NZ history.

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